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Mercedes-Benz W25

The Classic Age — Automobiles of 1926-1939

Photography by: Daimler

Automobiles of Mercedes-Benz 1926-1939


Article by Graham Robson

from Daimler Archives

In 13 years from the official of Daimler with Benz in to the outbreak of World War II in 1939 produced some of the best, classic, fastest, and best-engineered in the world.

1926 Mercedes-Benz 300 8/38 with limousine by Daimler Sindelfingen

Soon the merger was formalized, rationalization set in. cars continued to be made at the works in Mannheim for a time, it was the Mercedes Sindelfingen factory of Stuttgart) that became the center. Existing Benz (10/30 and 16/50 models) soon phased out in favor of models (with 3.1-liter “Stuttgart” models (with engines) appeared at Sindelfingen, but the emphasis went into a whole range of side-valve 4- and family cars eventually tubular backbone chassis and front and rear suspensions.

Mercedes-Benz 18/80 Nurburg 460

In there was a mechanically unadventurous range, which might been influenced by Detroit, but car featured a side-valve 8-cylinder that eventually grew to 4.9 (299 cubic inches). this technically staid was still being built as the drew to a close.

1929 250 10/50

Prestige First

For the and the technical connoisseur, however, three different types of chassis would emerge, but that came the refinement of the alloy-blocked 6-cylinder machines, a founded by Dr. Ferdinand Porsche the Type 24/100/140 of 1924.

(as Karl Ludvigsen has already out) Dr. Porsche did not stay at beyond 1928, his legacy on, and this explains why the same car, complete with its chassis rails and stiffly front and rear axles, was until 1933.

Above: A 1928 Mercedes-Benz SSK hp with distinctive external and wheelbase shortened for competition

these were complex and cars, with flamboyant in which the exhaust headers through side panels in the production was limited. The engines progressively enlarged and boosted to 7.1 (431 cubic inches), up to 225 horsepower when the throttle-pedal-actuated was in use. To make them more ultra-sporting, the engine was farther back in the frame (to the weight distribution), and a new short was designed for the K (“Kurz,” or “short”) of after which came the S, the SS, the and finally the SSKL, all sold in but prestigious numbers.

The Grand

The Grosser was built from to 1938. This handsome Type 770 150/200 hp limousine was for Japanese royalty.

Because a usually weighed at least pounds, the chauffeur must appreciated the power-assisted brakes, of course, there was no power for the which therefore required him to be especially for maneuvering at low speeds.

117 such cars were before an even more “Mk 2” Grosser was in 1937. This was a much technically advanced car with tubular frame members, front suspension, and de Dion suspension. The existing 8-cylinder was boosted to 230 horsepower, overwhelming for the day but to the 155-inch wheelbase. The handbuilt could measure more 20 feet long and weigh than 8,000 pounds. no motoring writer ever got to one of these cars when it was but top speeds of more than 100 mph believable, especially when one cruise along a newly autobahn at the head of an official

But now to money-making business and to remind that Mercedes-Benz was building 30,000 cars annually by the end of the Ford and Opel may have making more cars at time, but the three-pointed star no question, the upper-class prestigious to buy, at whatever level the could afford. Having off the excesses of Dr. Porsche’s era, achievement was due to patient, careful, and development of conventional machinery, using side-valve engines had been designed, then enlarged, after the merger place.

Value for Money

and commercially, therefore, the first big came in 1931 with the of the original 170 model, which, its 1.7-liter side-valve 6-cylinder became the smallest and cheapest car to have been built production resumed after the war in

A 1936 example of the Mercedes-Benz 170V Sedan, launched in as an affordable car for middle-class buyers

All in the 170 offered quite remarkable for the money. Although the first could only reach 55 mph, this was competitive for the Not only did it have independent and rear suspension, but this was the first time that a combination had been offered on a production car in this price Although we did not know it at the time, it was the of a whole new range and type of models, and it startled the rest of the motor industry. Interestingly, axles of this type be used at the rear of all future models until the arrival of the Generation” range of the mid-1960s.

A Type 170V Cabriolet that even at the affordable end of the the company was offering well-appointed

Nor was that all, for this car featured steel-disc wheels, operated brakes, and centralized lubrication. None of these was totally new, but as a package, proved that Mercedes-Benz had been thinking, deeply, for years before the 170 arrived. 14,000 of this type of 170 be sold, and soon it was joined by the 200 had a 40-horsepower 2.0-liter engine), would sell even

From 1933 it got confusing, for the new 290 had an even larger 68-horsepower along with a different suspension that also coil springs. But that was the beginning, for by 1936 the Type 200 the Type 230 (2.2-liter engine), the 290 had been replaced by the Type 320 liters), both cars all-synchromesh gearboxes, and the style was modernized.

A 1936 Mercedes-Benz 200 Cabriolet A

More and more ensued, with a new generation of chassis frame introduced and 170V/230/320 ranges taking from the still-popular types.

Two real novelties, however, took the pundits’ breath Not only was there a new diesel-engined in 1936 (this was a world’s for no one had previously tried to sell private cars), but a new small car, too. Neither was a success at the time, but both how far ahead of the conventional automotive Mercedes-Benz was actually thinking.

The was a specially developed, low-revving 2.6-liter 4-cylinder unit of no refinement, but it was economical, and powerful to produce 60 mph when inserted in a 230 chassis. It sold steadily to drivers, as well as to those for long lives rather brisk performance. It would however, be revived after War II.

The rear-engined car, dubbed 130H (“H” for “Heck,” or followed the latest German (the Volkswagen “People’s don’t forget, was already in the pot by then) and had a simple backbone frame but all-independent suspension, rack-and-pinion steering. The engine, a 4-cylinder side valve the so far, from Mercedes-Benz only 26 horsepower, and the handling has described as “very strange,” for it was a oversteerer, rather like a worn VW Beetle or Corvair be seen in later years. also The Star, September-October p. 44.)

Mercedes-Benz W25

Amazingly, the company persevered, as many vices as it could, and to sell 10,000 of them upgrading the design to 170H in with a 38-horsepower 1.7-liter of the same engine. Mercedes-Benz developed a very attractive version of the same design, a tourer style featuring a engine (it was ahead of the line of the axle) with a single cylinder head. Very indeed, were ever (See also The Star, 2010, p. 48.)

An expensive 540 K tourer was offered in small this is a 1936 Cabriolet B for passengers in rear seat).

The glamorous, yet attainable if the money there, of all 1930s Mercedes-Benz were the flamboyant 540K tourers, which were in hundreds (not thousands) 1933. All had stylish and magnificent coachwork, usually with seats though two-seaters also to be found with of those splendid, unmistakable designs coming from itself.

All the sports tourers the same type of supercharged 8-cylinder engine, which life at 3.8 liters and progressed to 5.4 the last producing 180 horsepower. there was the 380K, complete coil-spring independent front and swing-axle rear, then was the 500K, and, from the 540K. The last was certainly of more than 105 mph, made it as memorable as, say, the of the 1950s. There would been more to come, as promised by the 580K preview had a 5-speed gearbox) in 1939, but it to reach production before the war all civilian car-building to an end.

Grand Prix

In his feature (pp. 34-39), Ludvigsen has already detailed the the company, and the national politics Mercedes-Benz’s re-entry in Grand motor racing, so I will out the cars, and their achievements, 19341939.

The company had its all-new W25 ready to race by mid-1934. As seen, it was painted white, but the was soon stripped off to reveal an body skin. The cars immediately nicknamed “Silberpfeile” Arrows”). Racing in direct with Auto Union of Germany), this supercharged 3,360-liter straight-eight won three Grands Prix that

The W125 race cars their 600-horsepower engine won of 13 major races in 1937.

In the latest W25s now running 400-horsepower 4-liter “eights” dominant, winning five events and four less races, with a bonus driver Rudi Caracciola European Champion. In 1936, there was a setback, for a new set of short-wheelbase cars could not handle enough to exploit all the potential of the 450-brake-horsepower/4.7-liter/287CID engines there only two major victories.

For though, the racing department, by Rudolf Uhlenhaut, designed the new which had an oval-tube chassis, suspension, and a 600-horsepower 5.66-liter This, the most classic of Daimler-Benz single-seaters, could 210 mph if suitably geared, and won seven of the 13 it actually started. From Grand Prix cars not be as powerful as this until the of the turbocharged machines raced in the

For 1938 and 1939, the authorities the regulations (were they, trying to neuter the dominance of the Arrows?), but Mercedes-Benz immediately new-shape, new-style W154 with supercharged V-12 3-liter power units. Not did these cars win six major in 1938, but, with more power, they also win five major in 1939.

One very special occasion in May 1939, when the company all-new 265-horsepower 1.5-liter V-8 to compete in the Tripoli Grand Design, development, and build completed in eight months, the finished first and second, and the opposition was humiliated.


In the 1930s, the company also time to build a series of cars to attack straight-line marks. First, in 1934, a W25 197 mph at Gyon (near Budapest), in 1936, a much-modified W25, streamlined coachwork, used a supercharged 616-horsepower 5.6-liter engine to reach 228 mph on a new road Frankfurt. Newer streamliners hit 248 mph

at in 1937, then an amazing 269 mph a 736-brake-horsepower-engined car in January 1938.

in 1939, the Type 80 was to be powered by a

engine. It is now in the Mercedes-Benz Museum.

The monstrous and exciting record of all the Type 80 remained unfinished as war out. Intended to attack the world land speed (which stood at 370 mph), it was to be by a supercharged DB603V3 V-12 (3,000 horsepower, 44.5 It might have accomplished the but world politics decreed and it never ran on the road, track, or demonstration circuit. But it still one of the stars of the magnificent Mercedes-Benz in Stuttgart.

Mercedes-Benz W25
Mercedes-Benz W25
Mercedes-Benz W25

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